The Pariyaram Medical College here, a cooperative sector institution run by a director board controlled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is once again in the spotlight following the controversy over admissions to the MBBS and postgraduate medical courses in the management and NRI quotas.
What kicked up the latest controversy are the admissions secured by the daughter of Health Minister Adoor Prakash to a postgraduate course in the management quota and that of V.V. Rameshan, treasurer of the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) State unit, to the MBBS course in the NRI quota. The Minister has since announced that his daughter has given up the seat.
Central to the row is the issue that the medical college, run by the CPI(M)-controlled Kerala State Cooperative Hospital Complex and Centre for Advanced Medical Science, has not adhered to the government norm that 50 per cent of the seats be allocated for admission from the merit category. The issue is likely to be a major embarrassment for the DYFI and the Students Federation of India (SFI), which have launched an agitation against the United Democratic Front (UDF) government over admissions to self-financing institutions.
Many eyebrows have been raised over the admission secured by the daughter of Mr. Rameshan, a member of the college's director board. The college authorities have said that the admission is in compliance with the norms concerning NRI quota seats, as the student has been sponsored by a close relative working in the Gulf. The amount fixed for an MBBS seat in the NRI quota is Rs.50 lakh.
Only five of the 21 postgraduate medical seats, including 11 seats sanctioned this year, have been set apart for admission in the merit quota. Most of the five seats are of specialisation courses, which are not in great demand.
Youth and student organisations loyal to the UDF are quick to target the DYFI and the SFI, saying that the admission procedure in the CPI(M)-controlled college is no different from the alleged commercialisation of professional education in other self-financing institutions that the pro-CPI(M) youth and student organisations have been opposing.
Seeking an investigation into the way the admission was given to the DYFI leader's daughter, Rijil Makutty, vice-president of the Kerala Students' Union, said the DYFI owed an explanation on the source of the Rs.50 lakh paid.
Muhammad Blathur, Youth Congress leader, pointed to the flouting of the norm of equal number of seats in the management and merit quotas.
The KSU and the Youth Congress leaders summon the memory of the death of five DYFI workers in police firing in Koothuparamba in 1994 during an agitation against M.V. Raghavan, Communist Marxist Party (CMP) leader and then Minister, for starting the medical college as a self-financing institution.
C.A. Ajeer, CMP leader, called for action against the college's director board for the alleged illegal admission of students. He said Chief Minister Oommen Chandy should intervene as the guideline for 50 per cent merit quota had been violated.
M.V. Jayarajan, chairman of the hospital and CPI(M) leader, told The Hindu on Thursday that the college management had informed the government that the 50:50 equation had been accepted in principle and more seats would be allocated on the merit list next year.
“As per the government norm, we are supposed to allot 10 of the 21 seats for admission under the merit quota, and we have told the government that we will allot 15 seats next year, including five seats, that we could not set apart this year,” Mr. Jayarajan said.
Asked why the 50:50 equation had not been applied for the 10 seats sanctioned earlier, he said clarity about admission had emerged recently as more institutions started the courses.
During the previous UDF government's term, there was no 50:50 condition while sanctioning no-objection certificates to the managements. That was why Church-controlled managements were not admitting students from the merit list. It was the previous LDF government that stipulated the 50:50 equation while sanctioning the certificates. The Pariyaram Medical College approved of this condition.